The winter season brings with it many challenges for the construction industry, including amplifying existing hazards and introducing new ones. Snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures all contribute to an increased risk of illness and injury on the job site.
5 Common Winter Hazards
Here are five of the most common winter hazards for the construction industry and how to avoid them:
- Cold stress—Your employees are subject to hypothermia and frostbite in near- or below-freezing temperatures. Encourage employees to dress warmly and stay hydrated with warm liquids to keep their bodies warm.
- Slips and falls—Remind employees to clear surfaces of snow, wear boots with good tread and walk slowly while paying extra attention to their surroundings.
- Snow removal—Removing snow presents its own risks, especially from roofs and scaffolding. Ensure that employees de-ice lifts and ladders before use, avoid using ladders for high surfaces and work in pairs to reduce strain on a single person.
- Winter driving—Especially on roads that are under construction, ice and snow make driving more dangerous. Perform regular maintenance on vehicles, and make sure they’re inspected before use. Clear high-traffic areas of ice and snow, and use traffic cones and proper signage to assist in safe navigation.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning—The use of gas-powered appliances and tools such as heaters, generators and snowblowers increases exposure to carbon monoxide. Employees with the most potential exposure should use carbon monoxide monitors, or use electrical or manual equipment when possible.
Additionally, education is the most important safety tool to protect against winter hazards. Educate employees on the signs of cold stress and carbon monoxide poisoning, and train them on safe winter driving, walking and snow removal.